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Pastor’s gratitude affirms Welch’s evangelistic mission

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (BP)–Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch needed an interpreter at Suburban Heights Baptist Church in Klamath Falls, Ore., when members of a Spanish-speaking church who meet in Suburban Heights’ facilities also attended Welch’s “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” rally Oct. 4.

Though Welch’s usual message was abbreviated, interpreter Nichole Hernandez must have gotten it right. Whites and Hispanics alike broke into applause many times and shouted “Amen” in agreement with Welch as he hit the high spots of his address.

Bill Swartz, pastor at Suburban Heights, thanked Welch profusely on the way to dinner prior to the Everyone Can rally.

“I can’t thank you enough for being here,” Swartz said.

“It’s high time we got back to where we’re supposed to be … because if we’re not fishing, we’re fighting,” said Swartz, noting his gratitude for Welch’s emphasis on evangelism.

Swartz touched on a theme Welch reiterates at each stop on his nationwide campaign to raise awareness among Southern Baptists of a four-year decline in baptisms. One of Welch’s objectives is to create a spiritual synergy and a convention-wide coordination of evangelistic “muscle-flexing,” he says, for Southern Baptist churches to “Witness, Win and Baptize … ONE MILLION!” people to Christ in a year.

“We can do this right now,” Welch said to the multi-ethnic morning crowd of about 50 –- and to an evening crowd at South Reno Baptist Church, a congregation along one of the Nevada city’s busiest thoroughfares.

Welch has also said that Southern Baptist pastors could win close to half a million to Christ if each of them would win to Christ and baptize one person a month for a year.

“Our convention has never even baptized its first half-million,” Welch said. “But I believe we can easily reach the 1 million mark if we all will try.”

Trying is another point Welch made in Klamath Falls and Reno and at every other stop, and he relates it to the New Testament account of the boy who offered his bread and fishes to Jesus as a meager offering.

“Can’t you just see that little boy?” Welch asked. “Here he comes, walking toward Jesus with smelly fish and crusty bread.

“His hands are dirty, because he is a little boy, isn’t he? Someone in the crowd says, ‘His mother ought to wash his face and comb his hair.’ But the little boy keeps coming, walking toward Jesus,” Welch said with his hands cupped as he inched toward the edge of the platform.

“That’s what I’m doing with my paltry efforts here, and I’m hoping God will come down on what we do and deliver a miracle,” he said. “But I don’t believe He will unless we try.

“You see, I’m doing what that little boy did with his meager offering. I’m doing all I can with what I have, where I am, and I’m doing it now,” said Welch, reiterating yet another theme of the Everyone Can campaign.

Welch says at each campaign stop that SBC churches should choose whatever evangelism strategy or method they want in order to reach people for Christ. “You can use WIN, you can use NET, you can use GROW, you can us C.W.T., you can use E.E., you can use R.O.T.C. –- I don’t care. Just do something, and do it A.S.A.P.”

Following the sermon in Klamath Falls, several teams left the church to make evangelistic contacts in the neighborhood around the church.

“Praise the Lord!” Jason Leschitz celebrated. “Three people prayed to receive Christ!”

Leschitz, logistics coordinator for Welch’s Everyone Can tour, received the news via a cell phone call from Pastor Swartz of the three new believers, among many others, who responded to the Gospel along the bus’ trail.

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  • Norm Miller